Clenched Hearts

Scripture Reading — Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of ­heaven.” — Matthew 5:3

Make your hand into a fist, clenching it tight. Now imagine that your heart is like that: clenched, closed, so tense and tight that it almost hurts—but in a strange way that tightness feels safer than letting anyone in to hurt you.

Listen as Jesus begins a powerful sermon, declaring, “Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . .” It’s as if he’s saying, “Of course your heart wants to clench up. It feels inadequate; it is wounded and weary; it feels threatened, like it’s under attack. It wants to protect itself.”

But he knows that a clenched heart might also shut out the love of God. So Jesus invites us to open our hearts, just as they are, wounded and weary. It’s as if he is saying, “Don’t pretend; be real; be vulnerable. You are poor in spirit, but you want to hide that from people around you, so you clench your heart. Let it go! Being poor in spirit is not something to hide; it’s a way to be blessed!”

Years ago a friend told me that on her first day of college, she met her roommate and quickly discovered that this person was tough, hard to get to know, and actually a bit scary. She tiptoed around her for a couple of weeks. Then one day she came back from class and found her roommate weeping. After a hug, they talked things through and found a new way to handle dorm life together. That’s an example of a “dying to live” blessing that can come from being open to one ­another.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for inviting me to come to you as I am. Help me to open my heart to others—and to show your love. Amen.

 

Devotion topics: Bible, Books of the Bible, Matthew, Life, Christian Life, Community